CHOGM 2018: Prince Harry headlines Commonwealth Youth Forum
DPI, GUYANA, Monday, April 16, 2018
The 2018 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) began today in London, United Kingdom (UK) with the simultaneous hosting of four forums focusing on women, youth, people, and business.
This year’s CHOGM is being held under the theme “Towards a common future“.
The 11th Youth Forum, which got underway this morning at the Queen Elizabeth Centre, was hosted under the theme “Powering our common future“. The forum focuses on finding common solutions to global challenges affecting youths. It also offers the opportunity for the youth representatives to network and partner as they seek to share ideas and address their common issues collectively.
Speaking for the first time in his capacity as Commonwealth Youth Ambassador, His Royal Highness Prince Harry pointed to the positive use of technology by youths for the development of their nations. He believes that the youths are the ones that will drive the fight against climate change and other major global challenges.
“You care. You want your nations to be cleaner, your planet to be greener, your friends and neighbours to be treated fairly and with respect, no matter their ethnicity, their religion, or their status. You are optimistic. The complicated challenges we face – climate change, inequality, conflict – they do not discourage you. Rather, they inspire you to persevere and effect change,” he posited.
Prince Harry assured that in performing his role as a Youth Ambassador, he will work in support of the legacy of the Queen, his father Prince Charles and his brother Prince William, who all acknowledge that the answer to world challenges lie with the youths.
With some 60 percent of the population, of the 53 Commonwealth Member States, under the age of 30, the role of Youth Ambassador is considered particularly important.
RT. Hon. Damian Hinds, Secretary of State of Education, UK Government, in his address, said the youths have the biggest stake in the future, hence their voices must be heard. He emphasised the importance of quality education throughout the world.
Kishva Ambigapathy, the outgoing Chairperson of the Commonwealth Youth Council, echoed similar sentiments that the Youth Forum reinforces the need for youth voices in policymaking.
He applauded the contributions of his peers in youth advocacy across the world while reaffirming his support. “My message to young people across the Commonwealth is that you are not alone. We are here to support you and to amplify your voice. And it’s by working with our partners that we can be so much more than the sum of our parts.”
Meanwhile, RT. Hon. Patricia Scotland, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth said through Commonwealth networks, particularly youth networks, benefits will not only be evident in the 53 nations that comprise the Commonwealth but will have spinoff effects for the other countries across the world.
She noted that “a vibrant youth sector creates the enabling environment for young people to succeed, and to apply in positive ways the energy and vitality which can otherwise so easily be thwarted or subverted towards negative ends.”
Emphasis was placed on the need for member countries to continue to invest in social capital in order for them to fully reap the benefits of the “Commonwealth Advantage”.
“We need youth provision in all our countries that are better resourced, better financed and better supported,” Baroness Scotland posited.
Further, she told the youths that they represent the legions of young people in Commonwealth countries who have decided that they will think and act with others to remake their societies, and the world, describing them as exemplars and advocates of positive change.
Several youths from around the world won awards which were presented to them today at the forum. Guyana’s representative at the forum is Samantha Sheoprashad.
At the end of today’s sessions, a plenary comprising representatives of all four forums will be hosted on Tuesday, April 17, 2018, where priority areas will be highlighted and forwarded to the Heads of Government for consideration and implementation where necessary.
These forums are being held ahead of the meeting of the Heads of Government slated for later this week.
By: Stacy Carmichael